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A Going Out of Town Checklist for a Babysitter of Toddlers

by Kathryn Walsh

Even if you've finger-printed and background-checked your sitter and interrogated her references, you're still going to be nervous leaving your little guy overnight. After all, she might know CPR, but does she know how to do all the voices in your toddler's favorite nighttime story? Leaving your sitter with lists and tips gives you peace of mind and helps your toddler maintain his schedule. He'll appreciate your voices even more after a weekend apart.

Contact Info

Your sitter doesn't need--or want--your entire Christmas card list, but she needs more than just your cell phone number. Write down the names and numbers of all the hotels you'll be using, the numbers of flights you'll be taking and the names and numbers of friends you'll be visiting. She could need help close to home too, so write down the names and numbers of nearby relatives or neighbors who could help her if she locks herself out of the house. Leave the contact information for your toddler's pediatrician, and add the numbers for poison control and the police. Another important piece of information for your contact list? Your address. Your sitter might have been able to find the place, but she probably can't quote the house number to emergency services without going outdoors.

Daily Schedules

Writing out a daily schedule for your child serves two purposes: it helps your sitter keep your tot happy, and it gives you a chance to admire yourself for getting so much done in a day. Scheduling every minute of your child's life (7:00: wake up, 7:02: put on slippers) is a bit extreme, but creating a loose outline of when he eats, bathes, wakes, naps and goes to bed is helpful. In the big blocks of free time left over, write out some ideas for ways she can keep him entertained. Scrawl in some info for the library's story time--be sure to leave your card--or directions for the closest playground. Or, just point her in the direction of the toy cabinet and let your toddler name the game.

Likes and Dislikes

Your toddler may still be fairly new to the world, but he's formed some strongly-held opinions in a short period of time. He'll struggle with you being gone anyway, but a sitter who does things the "wrong" way may push him over the edge. Share some tricks to keeping your toddler happy. Write up a list of foods he likes and how he likes them prepared, and give the sitter a list of bedtime and potty procedures that make these processes as smooth as possible. Tell her which stuffed animal he must have to sleep, which plate he refuses to eat from and why he screams whenever he sees Elmo. Whatever makes your toddler unique, your sitter needs to know about.

Emergency Info

If you're convinced that a house fire will break out the minute you leave town, take a deep breath. Prepping your sitter to deal with emergencies will extinguish the flames you see dancing in your head. It's best to point out safety features while you're giving her a tour of the house, but you'll also want to draw a map of the house or write a list showing the locations of fire extinguishers and first aid kids, as well as a few evacuation routes she can use if necessary. Write out a list using a big, bold font of any foods or substances that your toddler is allergic to, and give the sitter detailed instructions about which medications your toddler takes and how to administer them. Murphy's law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) means that your toddler might come down with the flu or break out in hives just after you pull out of the driveway, so write up a note granting your sitter permission to approve emergency medical treatment for your child. Include your insurance information in the letter or leave a copy of your card and some cash, too. Finally, spare your sitter a call to the locksmith: leave a set of house and car keys.

About the Author

Cooking, travel and parenting are three of Kathryn Walsh's passions. She makes chicken nuggets during days nannying, whips up vegetarian feasts at night and road trips on weekends. Her work has appeared to The Syracuse Post-Standard and insider magazine. Walsh received a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

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